Here are some suggestions that came up after a first long session with Aalto. While all of them (in my opinion) would be cool, don't feel like you need to implement them all; I really respect that you have the courage of your convictions to leave things out.
0) AUDIO INPUT/Effect version of plugin. Audio input mixes with Modulator + direct input to gate module. Can't really replace carrier, as FM on live audio is rather an insane thing to try to implement, though apparently Native Instruments has some version of it in FM8.
1) Add images of the UI to the manual.
2) Other waveforms, maybe a switch on the shape knob, with a Wavetable mode, a la PPG Wave ...
3) Scale quantize on sequencer. It's a little tricky programming a melody.
4) pitch offset for sequencer -- one of the most enjoyable things working with the old Arp sequencer was modulating the pitch of the sequence. In the simplest use, midi notes to transpose the current sequencer.
5) An idea from AudioDamage -- random reset on sequencer. Every N step, randomize the sliders.
6) true audio rate for the sequencer, so it can be used as a pitchable audio oscillator.
7) Second LFO/Second Sequencer.
To those I will add - put voice 1 to 4 tabs on each modulator, so that 4 copies of each modulator are available even in mono mode. The copy that is in effect when you drag a connection is the one whose tab is showing. Then you could have, say, sequencer 2 modulate sequencer one. In poly modes, when dragging a connection from tabs this way, have a target menu pop up at the destination port to select which voice to apply it to. This could get wonderfully chaotic very quickly by making modulation routings hop and skip across voices.
Agree with pitch transpose on the sequencer - especially if the resulting notes Edit: oh wait, you can already transpose the sequencer, just route both it and the regular pitch to the osc pitch input and it will offset the pitch you're playing.
Thanks for this feedback! I appreciate the ideas, even where I am not replying point by point.
Yes, you can put pitch + a sequence into the OSC pitch to get a MIDI transposed sequence. Let me know if you have any questions about that.
The inter-voice routing stuff is a good and interesting suggestion. Mostly when I think along these lines I feel like it will take away from Aalto’s simplicity, so I write down features that will go into a future, fully modular instrument.
3) above: the "quant" button does scale to 12-equal-- in the next update this will quantize to whatever the currently selected scale is in the KEY module.
Some suggestions like 6) true audio rate for the sequencer are tricky: it would seem like an easy change: just make the frequency range bigger, no? But the range is actually carefully limited to avoid aliasing. So this would need to be done with some care.
that's true about Aalto's simplicity - which, the more I play with it, isn't so simple at all. Or at least it isn't a limiting kind of simplicity.
BTW, a support question - how do I transpose the key selected in the key menu? Or do gamelan type scales not support that, so that the interval relationships all shift up or down two steps or whatever? Or am I supposed to do that with oscillator tuning?
how do I transpose the key selected in the key menu?
I'm going to have to say, there’s no really good solution for that within Aalto. You can add a little pitch to the oscillator by changing its offset (use shift+drag on the pitch dial for fine tuning), but doing this is a little fiddly if you want to stay in tune.
If you want to transpose what MIDI note goes to what note of the scale, most DAWs offer some way to do that...maybe do it there if possible.
The Scala scale files (.scl) I'm using have a companion file type .kbm that specify a keyboard mapping. I plan to implement reading those files one of these days. But you are probably thinking of a quicker dial where you transpose up and down.
Hey I like my suggestions -- or I wouldn't have suggested them -- but I trust you to decide about how and what to implement. I like that you can't do everything in Aalto.
One other suggestion though -- the sequencer can be triggered by incoming midi keys. How about a 'key advance' mode where every incoming midi note advances the sequencer one step?
How about a possibility to edit each voice separately - 4 views one for each voice - so you could have sort of 4 seperate mono-modulars. Of course that would be an extra edit mode not the default one. I like the way things work now, but having an option like that would be fun (discovery pro comes to mind and lush-101).
Other than that - more filters to choose - a good formant one perhaps.
One more LFO and envelope wouldn't hurt :]
Just a wish list hehe.
Hi Randy (and others),
I have bought Aalto only recently and am extremely happy with it.
Apart from the sound (very analogue indeed), I am particularly impressed with the user-interface, a strong point that I found underreported in the many reviews I read and came somewhat as a surprise. I also think that this sets Aalto apart from the competition.
the scalable VST-window (with vector graphics): this is such a relief: I use a very large, wide monitor with a high resolution (need to see all those tracks at once), and most of my VST's suffer from a too small window.
visual feedback for changing parameters: the small circles that start to glow when a value changes, and the oscillating needles: man, you should patent this!
immediate parameter setting: just clicking on a dial gives you instant response (as opposed to gradual progression towards a value with sliders or pots). Likewise, support of the scroll wheel is well implemented.
the patch bay is really intuitive to me: small nitpick; it is unfortunate that multiple connections overlap (and that multiple clicks are required to browse through these connections).
I know that sound is the main reason for people to buy VSTi's, but to me, the UI comes in close second (what use is a great sound if it is counter intuitive to create or mangle it?).
I hope that your future projects receive the same attention in that aspect.
I was thinking the other day that a level control with an attenuverter for the output of the sequencer would be great
it could scale both outputs or just one
this could really help bring static seq patterns to life
Thanks to all... I really appreciate the feedback and ideas.
Note that if you want to set a dial by click-and-drag, without it jumping, you can also do this by clicking on the number area.
I am trying to imagine the patch bay without multiple connections potentially overlapping but I can’t think how this is possible.
this one may be for aalto 2 but it would be nice to be able to trigger ENV 1 or 2 with the LFO
Having a ball with this synth. Couple of things that would be cool:
Make the sequencer bidirectional and make the direction modulatable. Also, scalable to 32 steps.
Shape control for LFO.
Finer resolution for oscillator pitch. Even with shift-drag, we only get one decimal place.
Syncable delay to host tempo or internal sequencer.
Second LFO, both LFO's cross-modulatable without using up LFO outputs.
Have a bipolar option for LFO. EDIT: Oops, I meant bipolar sequencer..
Of course, Aalto is great as is. Love exploring it. Just having a free-running oscillator is so cool; it's one of the things I miss most from my modular days.
Very good suggestions, thanks.
Hello Randy, is it possible for you to implement Midi Learn?
I'm currently in Cubase 6.5 as my main DAW and it doesn't feature great and easy Midi Learn capabilities like for example Live does.
In short, in Cubase I'm practically confined to a lousy 8 controls :-(
Having Aalto-native Midi Learn would make my life so much easier and my time with Aalto especially in Cubase so much more enjoyable than it already is.
Apart from the Cubase issue, I generally prefer when plugins have their own Midi Learn functionality.
Please let me know your thoughts on that issue and what bribes it would need to make you consider adding Midi learn ;-)
PS. Of course I'm also interested if Kaivo will have Midi Learn.
No bribes needed, I'm already on board with this idea and plan to include it in Aalto 2. I also plan to do a Kaivo 2 release at the same time to get the new features into both instruments.
inputs to modulate the carrier & modulator levels?
inputs to modulate the carrier & modulator levels?
I think this would be confusing, because the ratio of those levels (c/m ratio) is controlled by the mod index dial. This is the usual parameter on an FM pair. If there were separate c/m levels, there would be no way the ratio dial could work anymore.
Thanks, I don;t quite get it though. i mean the audio signals of the c/m which you adjust with the green/yellow dials between the osc and the gate. you couldn't have an input to modulate how much of the modulators audio is mixed?
Oh OK, I see what you mean now. Yes, that would be possible.
Re: Midi Learn Aalto/Kaivo
Cool, thanks for taking the time to reply. That's good news!
I've just discovered that you already mention the plan of adding "basic MIDI controller functionality" in the Aalto manual's FAQ section. I really hope it's going to be complete Midi Learn for every knob, slider and button in Aalto in the end.
From what I've experienced, Midi Learn seems to be handled in two different ways:
Some plugins store the Midi Learn settings only with the current session, so if you start a new session, you'll have to reassign all the controls. While it's better than nothing, I don't think that is perfect.
Other plugins save the Midi Learn settings globally, so that whenever you open an instance of the plugin in a new session, your standard controller layout is ready to go. To me that is the perfect solution.
A nice bonus feature would be the ability to load/save different Midi Mappings in the plugin on the fly.